The new Los Angeles city mandate that requires proof-of-vaccination to enter most public, indoor locations will be up for major alteration at the LA City Council on Friday, only days after first coming into effect earlier this week.
The Los Angeles city ordinance, A.K.A. the SafePassLA mandate, that went into effect on Monday currently covers a wide variety of indoor businesses, with many larger outdoor venues, such as stadiums, having already been previously covered by earlier County-wide proof mandates for mega events.
Food and drink related places, such as restaurants, bars, fast food restaurants, coffee shops, and wineries are the most visible of the new mandate, with many entertainment venues, such as malls, movie theaters, theaters, arenas, convention centers, and other indoor venues also among those checking for vaccination proof. Other places, such as gym and fitness locations, as well as personal care businesses such as salons, barbershops, and non-medical therapy locations, are also covered. All together, LA has the most sweeping proof-of-vaccination mandate in the country. The County mandate pales in comparison by only asking for proof at select businesses such as bars, movie theaters, and restaurants.
Earlier this week, many business groups warned that the mandate would cause numerous issues due to the language of the mandate and the scope of vaccination proof checks.
“There’s a tremendous lack of clarity,” said Los Angeles County Business Federation policy manager Sarah Wiltfong, in a statement on Monday. “Most retail shops are exempt, but shopping malls and shopping centers are included, which of course includes retail shops. This puts employees in a potential position of conflict, when they’re not necessarily trained to handle situations like that.”
While the ordinance will not be enforced in the city until November 29th, many businesses this week have reported many difficulties in enforcing the ordinance and asking for proof from everyone. Loopholes in the system, such as going around main entrances or pretending to go in to only use the bathroom and instead staying, have already been exploited city-wide.
“Do you know how many entrances there are into a mall? It can be dozens,” said Mary Beth Winters, a shop owner at a mall in Los Angeles, in an interview with the Globe. “You have anchor store entrances, restaurant entrances, connecting store entrances, general entrances, loading docks, other employee entrances. This week alone we have seen people come in every which way.”
“Then there’s my favorite way of how people are getting in. They come as a huge crowd, and while the people who have vaccination cards show them, those who don’t slip by in the commotion. I mean, they’re really getting creative.”
“At restaurants, people have been reserving a table for outside, where no proof is needed, then ask for a change inside due to the temperature or whatever. They’re already sitting down, so it just goes over some heads and they’re in without proof.”
“And that’s not even including businesses that ignore it. It’s not happening in malls so much, but many places I’ve gone to in the last few days are not asking even if they’re supposed to. None of this is working.”
Possible proof mandate changes coming in LA
In response, the Los Angeles City Council will discuss on Friday what the needed changes to the SafePassLA mandate are. Malls and shopping centers will likely be removed from the places that require vaccination cards and test papers due to the large number of reported issues in checking for proof. An age limit will also likely be put into place with vaccination proof only being required for those 12 and up.
As the new LA mandate will likely influence more cities, both in California and nationwide, with their own proof mandates, many are watching what the changes are so they don’t make the same mistakes in including them.
“A lot of cities and counties are looking at LA now as a model on how to ask for vaccination proof in similar mandates they’re drawing up,” said Kansas City-based COVID-19 vaccination strategist Ellie Boyle to the Globe on Thursday. “And they are looking at what these changes will be. These are hard enough to enforce as is, and they can save these cities a lot of headaches to see now what works and what doesn’t. Like shopping mall mandate checks.”
Enforcement of the LA mandate is to begin on November 29th. After the 29th, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety will issue fines and punishments to those in violation. While the 1st infraction will only warrant a warning, the 2nd infraction will bring a fine of $1,000, with a 3rd infraction costing $2,000. All others afterwards will amount to $5,000 each time. All fines and warnings will be given to the establishment, not the individual for breaking the mandate.